Positive Learning Climates KnowledgeBase

The Positive Learning Climates KnowledgeBase is an online resource to aid educators in nurturing school climates conducive to learning. It is organized around five elements aimed at developing a positive learning climate.

Element 1: Understand the Law

Purpose: In addition to addressing academic rigor, instructional strategies, teacher qualifications, and class size, the learning environment plays an equally important role in improving student academic achievement. The first step in creating a positive learning climate is understanding the laws addressing school safety. Element 1 offers basic information on the legal aspects of school safety.

Activity 1: Become Familiar with the Legal Aspects Concerning Safer Schools

Activity 2: Understand Legal Implications for Schools and School Personnel

Element 2: Know Your School and Community

Purpose: Assessing the school's learning climate involves looking at student behavior, school culture, physical environment, family and community involvement, and interactions with other government agencies. Element 2 outlines the tasks involved in creating a profile of the school's learning climate.

Activity 1: Take a Snapshot of School and Community

Activity 2: Identify Focus Areas

Element 3: Create a Comprehensive Positive School Climate

Purpose: Addressing school climate is an important aspect of improving academic performance. Taking a comprehensive look at a school's climate addresses focus areas that merit attention and communicates intended methods and strategies to the staff members, students, and other relevant constituent groups. Element 3 outlines the tasks involved with creating a positive school climate.

Activity 1: Plan to Act

Activity 2: Develop Methods and Strategies

Activity 3: Identify Resources Required to Accomplish Goals

Activity 4: Document Methods and Strategies

Task 2: Review with the Team

Guideline: Once the strategies for improving the learning climate have been documented, the work team should review them. Appropriate revisions would be included following this review.

Evaluating Programs

The Safe and Drug-Free Schools (SDFS) program and the Institute of Education Sciences established the Safe, Disciplined, and Drug-Free Schools Expert Panel in May 1998 to develop and oversee a process for identifying and designating as promising and exemplary programs that promote safe, disciplined, and drug-free schools. In the course of their work, they developed a set of criteria and indicators to evaluate the Safe, Disciplined, and Drug-Free Schools programs. While this criteria was used to evaluate exemplary and promising programs, it does offer guidance for district/school planning teams as they assess programs or activities they plan to implement in creating positive learning environments for their students.

Principles of Effectiveness

The Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (SDFSCA) encourages safe and drug-free learning environments supporting student academic achievement. While the Principles of Effectiveness described in the non-regulatory guidance for state and local grant implementation apply to SDFSCA grant recipients, these principles offer guidance for district/school planning teams as they assess programs or activities to create positive learning environments for students.

Element 4: Implement Strategies

Purpose: Improvement is achieved through the effective implementation of chosen strategies. To be successful, the principal should monitor the school's progress towards implementing the selected strategies. Element 4 outlines the steps for implementing the strategies aimed at improving a school's climate.

Activity 1: Manage Implementation

Activity 2: Accomplish Change

Activity 3: Evaluate Outcomes

Element 5: Communicate with School's Constituencies

Purpose: What happens in school is community news and sometimes even draws national attention. A district's and school's communication strategies should address how behavioral incidents are handled. Element 5 provides information on communicating with the school's constituencies.

Activity 1: Develop a Communications Strategy

Activity 2: Execute Communications Strategy